What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Tis the season to take stock of what is going on in our lives and outside our circles of friends and activities.

Here are just a few things I am particularly grateful for this year, besides still being upright (Preferably, I’m upright in more than a vertical sense) and above the grass.

For at least the hundredth time I told Marilyn I have discovered my real purposes in our marriage: to shut off the lights she leaves on, to close the doors and drawers she leaves open, and to help her keep the shoe and clothing industries afloat. I shared my perceptions with her this morning as she was cooking at the stove and stirring meatballs with one hand while holding the cast-iron skillet with her other hand so she couldn’t give me a good biff.

Additionally I gave her a little snuggle as I gently reminded her of my additional purposes in our relationship and how much I appreciate her. Those meatballs she was cooking can have a powerful effect!

Indeed, I am heartily thankful for the scrumptious meatballs—sometimes made with pheasant meat our son shot or I accidentally hit while hunting the weekend before, as well as Marilyn cooking them, and her underlying purpose for which she was creating her culinary concoction. Our family of two sets of parents and four grandchildren will visit us for the Thanksgiving holiday, along with two nieces and their beloved mates; Marilyn is getting meals prepared ahead of time.

Yup, a houseful for Thanksgiving. There are other reasons for gratitude too, like the election being over. YES!

Marilyn and I got our federal and state income tax refunds last week. We (mostly yours truly) finished our taxes the day before the extensions ran out in mid-October. The time frame allowed me six months without penalty after April 15th to complete the monumental task of organizing financial records for our CPA to look for something I might have missed and to fill in the blanks of the online forms. For 45 years I have finalized everything myself, but for the past five years I have asked for help.

I am grateful that my mother’s example taught me habits of financial record-keeping, as well as learning tax law so I could figure out Marilyn’s and my tax obligations all these years. I purchase the same annual tax books that the attorneys and CPAs use. Our completed forms sometimes require 40-100 pages, because we have multiple incomes and deductions and multi-state reports. The end result most years leaves us with modest but sufficient livelihoods.

Satisfaction with paying taxes honestly feels good. The IRS and state revenue personnel are humans like us and they desire to work together with us to figure out what is fair. The two audits we have been involved in over the years have resulted in one refund and no additional obligation the other time. I am thankful for being about to work with government, especially in this trying year.

Now in my 70th year I am grateful I needed only one costly root canal job that took another gold tooth. I have only two gold teeth and 22 others left.

My regular dentist originally said this particular tooth had such a long root that it reached into my right sinus so he referred me to an endodontist for a second opinion. The computerized tomography scanner encircled my head and confirmed what I had suspected when I asked the endodontist if the CT scan showed anything significant inside my head.

He answered, “You should get your tooth pulled and you will have a hole into your sinus, but we didn’t see anything else up there; I’ll refer you to an oral surgeon.”

“I could have told you there wasn’t anything else ‘up there’,” I said, hoping my feeble attempt at humor would make the endodontist laugh and lower the bill for his opinion. Didn’t help!

The gold tooth paid $104 of the multiple dental bills when I redeemed it for cash. I am appreciative this Thanksgiving nonetheless that I had a gold tooth while gold was priced high and that the temporary hole into my sinus healed after a long-standing infection.

I am saddened this year that Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion retired, as we all must do sometime even if we don’t want to cease what gives us joy. Following something Keillor would do, I thank Peggy and Al in Wisconsin for encouraging me to write this, partly because Al dared me, but especially because their relatives in Iowa send them columns they cut out of the publication in which they read this column.

Gotcha! So fun to be thankful and hopeful this Thanksgiving.

It’s time to sample the meatballs Marilyn made, because the aroma is overwhelming any resistance I have! Happy Thanksgiving!